Alonso: Hamilton’s nationality explains “huge” media reaction to radio comment

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says his critical radio comment about Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap of the Belgian Grand Prix only garnered “huge media interest” due to Hamilton’s nationality.

The pair, who formed a rivalry when they were team mates at McLaren in 2007, collided at Les Combes when Mercedes’ Hamilton attempted to overtake Alpine’s Alonso around the outside.

The incident sent Hamilton skyward and then down to the ground with a 45G impact, ultimately putting an end to his race before the first lap was complete. Alonso continued on and made several remarks over the radio about Hamilton that were broadcast on television.

“What an idiot,” Alonso remarked on his radio at the time. “Closed the door from the outside. I mean, we had a mega start but this guy only knows how to drive starting first.”

Alonso retracted his comments immediately after the race. On Thursday at the Dutch Grand Prix reiterated that his outburst did not reflect his true opinions of his rival, but said the media interest in them was due in part to Hamilton’s nationality.

“First of all, it’s Lewis, he’s the champion, he’s a legend of our time,” said Alonso. “And then when you say something, and I’m sorry to repeat this, against a British driver, there is a huge media involvement after that.

“They’ve been saying a lot of things to Checo [Perez], to Carlos [Sainz], to me, if you say something to a Latin driver, everything’s a little bit more fun. When you say something to others, it’s a little bit more serious.”

He stressed his comments were borne out of frustration at their collision while the pair disputed second place at the start.

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“Yes I apologised. I feel I’ve completely, I was not thinking what I said, I don’t think that there was much to blame in that moment, to be honest, looking at the replays and everything, because it’s a first-lap incident, we are all very close together.

“The heat of the moment and the adrenaline of the moment, fighting for finally the top two, top three, made me say those comments that I should not say. But, at the same time and I said also after the race, it was a racing incident in my opinion.”

Alonso has previously said he does not believe drivers’ radio conversations should be broadcast publicly, a view he reiterated.

“When you say something on the radio, in that moment you think that you are talking with your engineer. So you are preparing the strategy, finally you start on the top three, you overtake Checo on the first corner, you are running second and then something happened and you say something to your mate, your colleague, to your engineer in that moment.

“Obviously you should be aware that is broadcasted, but it’s like if someone makes a hard tackle or something in football, in that moment you say something to your team-mate or your defender or whatever that is not broadcasted.

“Our media time is after the race and before the race. After the race, I said what I was thinking [truthfully]. On the radio, I said something that I was not – I don’t think that way.”

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2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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44 comments on “Alonso: Hamilton’s nationality explains “huge” media reaction to radio comment”

  1. Cheap sub editing. Could easily have said “Alonso: media nationality explains “huge” media reaction to radio comment”. Desperately trying to stoke flames with more cheap headlines that don’t really reflect his comments at length. Poor.

    1. +1
      I suspect a check of Spanish media when incidents involving Spanish drivers appear would show heavy coverage in the national media that actually take any interest in F1.

      I think the main item magnifying any British involvement is that more of the media outlets cover F1.
      F1 (and probably motorsport generally) has a high proportion of English-speaking fans, and of those predominantly British.

    2. Yeah… Why can’t RF show this photo https : // / P65kRhW after so many posts that spread twisted reports?

  2. Not just the nationality, but the driver…. If it were a comment on Russell (still in the heat of the moment) it would be forgotten about straight away.

    Anyway – now that that’s all done, we can move on.

  3. Charlie Racing
    1st September 2022, 13:57

    The British media can be brutal, can’t argue with that

    1. Written by Tab Lloyd?

  4. Yeah, to an extent this is a fair point. As ever with these “in the heat of the moment” things said, it is not really that surprising that drivers tend to say harsher things and more one sided things then they would say after cooling down a bit and/or seeing more angles of what actually happened.

    1. It’s actually good to have these ‘heat of the moment’ comments as well. It ads a bit of flavour to the otherwise boring and repetitive non-comments before and after the race.
      And only few people will take them literally.
      No, the Honda PU wasn’t a GP2 Engine.
      Yes, Hamilton does know how to start when not at the front.

  5. In this case, I don’t think Hamilton’s nationality is what spawned the interest, but their past history as team mates.

    1. @velocityboy completely agree. These two drivers have had friction for 15 years so anything between the two of them opens up a larger discussion, as we see with this article.

      1. Sorry, but it’s just lazy to say that these two have had friction for 15 years.

        He rushed up all the way from one end of the pit (as McLaren were at the back following their severe 2008 penalty) to the other to congratulate Hamilton on his first title.

        Alonso has always been very complimentary about Hamilton, to such a degree some of us thought he was on a wind up when in his Ferrari days, he consistently cited Lewis as his biggest threat – despite Vettel been in a faster car.

        Now of course, we understand why. Lewis, prior to Max, is the only driver that Alonso rates as good (or nearly good as him)

        This Hamilton and Alonso so called dislike is tiresome from both sides and simply untrue. Yes. I’m a bit Hamilton fan and thought Alonso was childish during 2007. But I’ve also grown to respect Fernando even more than I did watching his first win at Hungary 2003 (memorable as I was in a bar in Lanzarote – which my then 10 year old son, fondly remembers!!)

    2. It might be the fact that Alonso accused a 7 time world champion who has nearly every record in the books of being an incompetent racing driver.

      1. Very disingenuous of you. Lewis was never a driver with the reputation of being bad in traffic or crash-prone, and his track record attests to this fact. But occasional mistakes, every driver makes.

        1. Disingenuous of Alonso, maybe.

        2. André – You may want to watch the 2011 races. Massa will provide the popcorn.

          1. Massa then was puppet of Alo and purposely stirring crap with ham, and I wouldn’t rule out alo’ influence. Don’t forget the comments like “let’s destroy his race”. Massa was like 2007 Alo for the 2008 finale. So he was doing everything in every race within rules to mess with ham. Also don’t forget ham was on off relation with a special someone.

      2. I’m a Lewis fan. But I’d love to know if you’d be saying warm words about him, when he’s nearly taken you out of a race, you’ve a reasonable chance of your best points of the season.

        But I forget, public figures are not allowed to be human.

  6. Sorry Your title proves Alonso’s point. Alonso apologized to Hamilton. This was the main point of his statement. However, you choose as a title his comment on British media which was simply to explain why his comment got out of proportion …

  7. Nothing wrong with broadcasting radio comms & broadcasted comms have been done for a long time & not only in F1 but circuit-racing generally.

  8. Next time, Fernando, please, do it in Spanish.

  9. BTW, even here in Italy Alonso’s comment has been discussed quite a lot…

  10. Another misjudged comment by Alonso. I believe everyone has seen that public response is generally common-sensed in every incident no-matter what the media say (leaving aside the football-fans that have recently entered F1). And in this case, almost everyone was against Alonso, just like when eg. Hamilton moans on the radio the same people criticize him for that.

    1. I believe everyone has seen that public response is generally common-sensed in every incident no-matter what the media say

      You must be kidding.

      1. Just must take the following bracketed sentence into account

  11. He’s right

  12. GP2 engine
    calling the Ferrari crew idiots in italian..

    yeah, blame the media, your misfortune is their fault.

  13. The first bit of Alonso’s radio comment sounded spontaneous and was a fair assessment. If he’d left it there, it would just have been viewed as amusing and accurate. The second bit about Hamilton only being used to driving from the front sounded like something Alonso had thought or said in private previously and, as well as being questionable, was the real reason his comment received so much attention.

    1. Was just about to say the same, but probably not as well put. So I’ll just say, “I agree” instead!

      Good to see Hamilton’s apology after the race for the incident and Alonso’s apology for his words. Both owning and admitting their errors and drawing a line under it.

      1. Thanks @oweng I agree, good they both apologised. It was one of those marginal situations where Hamilton couldn’t really not try a pass but it was tight and needed him to give more room. Hamilton was lucky he didn’t get flipped over, Alonso lucky he didn’t pick up more damage.

    1. Thank you for this, it really puts this whole thing into perspective beautifully. Cheers.

  14., one website I don’t necessarily think of as a beacon of journalistic integrity, ran this headline on the same topic and quotes from Alonso:

    Alonso apologises to Hamilton for “idiot” comments after Spa F1 clash

    I know clicks and comments are important, but you don’t have to do this.

  15. I’m not a Brit and I found Alonso’s radio comment to reflect exactly what he thinks. But at that moment, he could not hold his tongue inside his mouth, so he just spoke what he truly thinks or feels about Hamilton. You can’t hide it. It was too specific of a comment to just be a silly adrenaline filled outburst in the heat of the moment.

  16. The corporate media of most countries are scumbags, British rags being some of the worst.

    As a Brit, hope Alonso realises that its only the MSM, he has load of UK fans who agree with him. Many who have never taken to Hamilton and his constant hypocrisy and whining.

    Also he didn’t need to apologise at all, what he said was his opinion and that of many, many people.

    1. Of course he didn’t need to apologize, but he obviously thought that it was the correct thing to do. It’s nice to see a bit of respect being shown between rivals off the track.

    2. Correct. And I’m a Lewis fan.

      It was clearly a typical Fernando overreaction after nearly having his race ruined.

      Hamilton reaction afterwards was understanding as he played down Fernando’s comments – which then led to them realising that they both have a lot of respect for each other.

  17. Does anyone else find the banner ad over the login button nefarious? Or am I the only sucker supporter that was hoping to go ad free?

  18. He should just say: “Sorry for speaking the truth to my workmate in a conversation that should be private matters!”

  19. Why make the comment in English then?

  20. I do find this Lewis and Fernando hate each other nonsense, tiresome.

    Both admit mistakes were made by each of them in 2007 and everyone realises that it was Ron Dennis’s total mismanagement that made the situation worse. Look at how Toto managed Hamilton and Rosberg – which potentially could have been far worse than it was.

    Since then, both have had nothing but respect for each other, outside certain on track incidents.

    1. Yes, that’s the feeling I got too, alonso if anything seemed to be more hostile to vettel.

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